Hobo With A Shotgun: *

Running time: 82 mins  Certificate: 18

Synopsis: Homeless stranger (Rutger Hauer) rides the freight train into a hellish town run by Drake (Brian Downey) and his vicious sons.  When the hobo prevents one of Drake’s sons from hurting a prostitute he makes a citizen’s arrest, only to find the local cops are on Drake’s payroll.  The hobo buys himself a shotgun and starts serving his own brand of justice. 

 

This promised so much.  It’s called ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ for a start.  What’s not to love about the title?  It stars 80’s action hero Rutger Hauer, whose CV includes ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ (Gary Sherman 1986), ‘Blind Fury’ (Philip Noyce 1989), and ‘Salute of the Jugger (David Peoples 1989).  The villain is played by Brian Downey from the deranged sci-fi show ‘LEXX,’ and there is plenty of gratuitous nudity and violence. Hauer even delivers a monologue about grizzly bears that I suspect he wrote himself.  Yet director Jason Eisener blows it. 

 

‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ replicates the experience of watching a grindhouse movie, but not in the way the filmmakers intended.  Angela Carter once wrote ‘the virtue of low art is it can transcend itself’ and some of the 70’s exploitation films do.  There is a mad kind of beauty in the best of them and some even try to say something about the human condition.  Yet the truth is most of these films were rubbish.  Like ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ their premises, or trailers, or titles, or posters, would promise much more than the filmmakers had actually put on screen.  The best moment here is a cameo appearance by a bottle of J & B Whisky, a brand that seemed to specialise in sponsoring Italian exploitation films of the 70’s and would often turn up in blatant examples of product placement in Dario Argento movies and the ‘Black Emanuelle’ franchise. 

 

In recent years there has been an increase in pastiches of a particular style of filmmaking belonging to the past.  The obvious attraction of these movies for filmmakers is they allow them to pass comment on the politically incorrect thrills of the past while simultaneously replicating them.  Eisener doesn’t have the talent to do either.  ‘Hobo with a Shotgun’ is trash rather than trashy and there is a huge difference between the two. 

by Kevin Sturton

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